Fall is here, and for most of us, that means it’s time for some beautiful, refreshing fall hikes. If you’re in near Colorado this time of year, these autumnal hikes really hit the mark. Hint: It’s all about the aspens.
Devil’s Head Lookout Trail to Fire Tower, Pike National Forest
This out-and-back moderately difficult 2.7‑mile trail near Sedalia ascends a distinctive granite outcropping to Colorado’s only National-Forest-staffed fire lookout. While you will hopefully not encounter fires on your trek, the aspens in this area set it ablaze with fall color. Reaching the top of the trail, you’ll be treated to an all-around panorama for a hundred miles.
Cub Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
A great spot for viewing Colorado’s famous aspens, the Cub Lake trail, a moderate 4.8‑mile-roundtrip jaunt, will lead you through picturesque meadows to its namesake, a lovely mountain lake with a stunning view of Stones Peak. The Cub Lake trail offers another fun fall surprise: during the season, this is a popular hangout for elk.
Dadd Gulch, Fort Collins
The changing leaves here are stunning to behold, the hike is fairly protected from intense wind, and, maybe best of all, you can bring your four-legged buddy along for the trip—and even give him some off-leash time. The Gulch is divided into upper and lower segments, the upper half constituting of road, the lower half of the footpath trail. The lower section is three miles out and three back.
Maroon Lake Scenic Trail, Aspen
This one-mile hike is great for hikers of all skill levels. The surface of the lake mirrors the fiery fall colors to be seen in all directions. Two stunning peaks, Maroon and North Maroon, define this breathtaking place. Some truly superlative geology—from sedimentation to wind erosion—stretching back more than 300 million years, crafted this region. That’s a lot of autumns come and gone.
Mount of the Holy Cross Ascent, White River National Forest (Holy Cross Wilderness)
Colorado wouldn’t be Colorado without its stunning mountains. Hiking in this area lets you experience a huffing-and-puffing fourteener (mountain with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet) while taking in the exquisite topography. Along the way, you’ll view glacier-sculpted peaks, snow-fed lakes and streams, and an abundance of fall color.
Cathedral Lake Trail, White River National Forest
When you want to work for it, this difficult 5.6‑mile out-and-back trek offers superlative views, including plenty of deep, rich autumnal foliage. The deep blue-green of the lake, of which you’ll enjoy spectacular views throughout the hike, is smooth as a fresh sheet on a calm day. Highly rated by visitors, this trail is known for its scenery. It’s also a busy route, so start out early, and be prepared to share the trail with your fellow nature admirers.